Is leadership different in business than education?

road-1556604_960_720Pixabay – AidaGorodoskaya

As I reviewed my reflection on leadership, I began to think about how leadership shows itself in business and education.  Are the contexts so different that the actual concept of leadership is different?

Leadership is about inspiring a team to achieve a shared goal, which is made possible because of the social and intellectual capital of the group.  It’s about using the influence that you have built up within the group to add value and help not only individuals learn and grow stronger, but support the team in moving toward their shared vision.  All of the things that you choose to do or not do shape the culture, relationships and success of the team.

As an educator, I’m part of many different teams.  The teacher in a classroom has a unique opportunity each semester to support the development of a strong learning team by involving his/her students in the learning process.  Teachers work with other teachers, admin, parents, support staff and student support services professionals in a constant search to respond to the needs of the student in a way that creates the best learning environment possible.  As educators, we are all on the same team.  Our ultimate goal is to support students in reaching their learning outcomes in the best ways that we can.

As an entrepreneur, I’m also part of many different teams.  The world of network marketing and direct sales is built on teams.  Teams that work well together propel all of the contributing individuals towards their goals.  You can always work alone but the synergy that comes from being part of a positive, inspiring, cohesive team is revitalizing.

While the specific goals we are trying to achieve may be quite different, the concept of leadership is consistent.  Whether I’m working in education or business, genuine leadership makes a difference in achieving the outcomes.  Leadership styles will vary based on the specific leader, the team and the context.  How you get to the goals you set will be different, but the factors that support the coevolution of social and intellectual capital will be the same.

Granted there we be specific parts that may be more difficult in one realm or the other but the concept itself still holds true.  Take for example Jim Collin’s idea that before you can go anywhere you must first have the right people on the bus. Ensuring you have the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As a teacher, you don’t get to pick the students in your class and often as a business leader you don’t have the authority to change your team.  The idea of starting with who is on the bus is still valid.  You have to know the people on your team or in your class in order to truly build a culture of excellence. It goes back to creating a shared identity, so that we are all working our our fullest potential.

Uniting a team begins by building trusting relationships.  Covey (2006) offered 13 practical ways to build trust.  While these trust building behaviours may show themselves differently in a classroom or an office, the behaviours are the same.  Purposefully, creating and maintaining trust within the network increases the likelihood of people interacting positively.  This in turn builds social capital which increases the chances of people exchanging knowledge.  As the social capital grows, so to does the intellectual capital.  As a community evolves shared stories begin to emerge, which help shape the group’s identity.  Daily interactions lead to shared language and codes which increase communication and build a resilient culture.

Creating a trusting environment in a classroom means that students will feel more comfortable stepping outside their comfort zone.  As a learner, they will be open to taking risks, trying new strategies and making connections to new information.  Students that trust their teachers will become more involved in the classroom, which creates more opportunities for knowledge sharing interactions and decreases behavior challenges.  The same is true in business.  In direct sales, for example, building a team matters.  If I’m worried about my upline’s motives, I’m less likely to work as part of team.  This in turn means that I lose out on mentoring opportunities and the chance to be part of a learning environment which could help push myself and my own team to new levels of success.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it (Sinek, 2014). Whether people are consuming an actual product or the act of learning itself, they still want to know why you are teaching it and that you value their perspective in the exchange.  We all want to feel valued.

Leadership style will vary from one situation to another.  How people inspire or scare others into achieving the desired goal of the group happens through different strategies.  You will find all types of leaders in business and education.  The type of leader isn’t mutually exclusive to one domain or the other.  The leader is ultimately shaped by his or her personal choices within the context he or she is attempting to lead.  The concepts that I’ve suggested to be common to leadership are foundational to leaders in both education and business settings.  Building trust, creating shared stories, shaping a common identity and context, enhancing communication and sharing knowledge are all significant in building a connected team.  So while the logistics and specific activities of developing team relationships may be unique to each setting, the path to becoming a leader worth following shares the same road.

usa-1556922_960_7201Pixabay – MarioSchmidtPhoto

 

goal more effectively because together the whole is stronger and better equipped

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Leadership

Leadership Concept Map August 2016

This concept map is meant to visualize the different the different connections I came across while studying leadership.  The detailed explanation can be found in my blog post entitled Leadership Connections – A Reflective Look Back.

I used Sketchboard to create my concept map and one of the features was the ability to create a quick slideshow.  So I’ve created a short video from the screen capture of my Sktechboard slideshow.

Here’s a quick overview of what the leadership concept map means to me.

 

 

Leadership Connections – A Reflective Look Back

Leadership Concept Map August 2016

Leadership Map PDF                             Video explanation of Map

As I reflect on what leadership means I’m drawn to Kruse’s attempt to define leadership.

“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, toward the achievement of a goal”
(Keven Kruse, What is Leadership?, 2013)

Leadership is not about your position or title, it’s about the choices you make within your circle of influence.  Covey (2006) explained that you can begin by leading yourself.  Great leaders start by recognizing the value of ongoing professional and personal development. Regardless of whether you are involved in education or in business, it’s about making purposeful choices to help your team work together to reach a goal.  A team can be your friends, family, your educational colleagues, your classroom of students, the people on your home based business team or the people in your department at work.

Leaders are integral members of teams which are similar to communities of practice (CoPs).  Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002) noted that CoPs are voluntary, vibrant and productive groups that foster ongoing relationships amongst group members, which builds value and engagement and in turn contributes to social capital. While every reading acknowledged teams or groups or followers, communities of practice was not a common phrase in the popular literature.  The strategies suggested for developing vibrant, voluntary communities of practice are simply good strategies to consider for all teams in any context.

As Stephen M. R. Covey (2006) said “leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust” (Speed of Trust, p. 40).  Leadership is a multidimensional concept that not only focuses on the task at hand but on how you go about achieving the goal.  It’s like going on a trip.  We all need to be headed to the same destination, but the paths we take and the stops we make along our journey all depend on how we are going to get there.

There’s many ways to reach your destination.  The concept of differentiated learning is based on the idea that we have a common outcome to achieve, but the learning and instructional strategies we use to get there depend on our choices.   You can hop in a car and drive yourself.  Going it alone will eventually get you there, but you may have to make more stops along the way to get everything done.  You could car pool with people that you trust, but that means you have to carefully choose your team so they can fit in the vehicle.  You could hop on the company bus, train or plane.  There’s lots of ways to get results, but not every path will be as efficient or support the coevolution of social and intellectual capital.

In a Good To Great article, Collins (2001) explained that it’s all about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus.  As the bus driver (leader), you have to start with WHO is on the bus.  The right people will bring a diverse and unique set of intellectual capital with them. It also means that you have to get the wrong people off the bus.  Building strong social capital within a group starts by creating a culture of excellence where individuals are motivated to be part of strong, dynamic team.

Part of creating a culture means defining the boundaries. Dr. Henry Cloud (2013) explained we have to lead in a way that people’s brains can follow.  You won’t foster strong, interpersonal connections and create a trusting environment by creating fear.  You have to keep the team focused on their goal, inhibit the barriers that will distract them and provide the opportunity to create routines in their working memories. Sinek (2014) agreed noting the importance of creating the circle of safety and how all of our actions as group members trigger brain based responses that either reinforce the relationships or create trust gaps.

Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) referred to the organizational advantage of companies that have both high intellectual and social capital as creating innovative, trusting and cohesive teams.  While trust is not the only component of building social capital, trust was mentioned by Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998);  Daniel, McCalla and Schwier (2003); Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002); McGonigal(2015); Sinek (2014); Cloud (2013); the Heaths (2010); and most definitely by Covey (2006) in The Speed of Trust.  Trust was the common thread in the majority of reading that I did.

Covey (2006) gave specific trust building behaviours to practice.  Cloud (2013) discussed how trust permeates the culture you create.  It “is the starting point … [that] makes it all work” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 171). Both McGonigal (2015) and Sinek (2014) focused on the body’s response to hormones like oxytocin which help foster trusting relationships. Trust is an integral part of creating healthy social capital, which in turn creates a strong, leadership culture.  As Covey (2006) stated and Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) noted, when trust goes up, the costs both financial and relationship go down. Trust increases the likelihood of knowledge exchanges which also generate intellectual capital.

Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003) cited Nahapiet & Ghoshal’s (1998) different aspects of social capital.

  • Structural – how members connect with other people in the community; how does information spread (Daniel, et al., 2003, p. 5).
    • Here’s where I see an interesting connection to Gladwell’s work in The Tipping Point.  Although he asked what causes a word of mouth epidemic, the question is essentially the same as asking how information is dispersed through a person’s network.  Gladwell (2006) talked about “connectors”, the people who are linked to many different people in a variety of social circles. While the articles on social capital didn’t mention the common links in the network, I would propose that the efficient dissemination of information flows out through key connectors with in the community.  Gladwell (2006) likened it to the game the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. While we live in a social media age, there are still key influencers online that we all follow or are connected to through our online network.
    • Next Gladwell (2006) mentioned the “mavens,” individuals that are extremely knowledgeable about specific topics.  They are your go to people.  When a maven answers your questions there’s a high probability you are going to follow their advice because you trust them and know that they are suggesting the best option for you.  Networks high in social capital will include mavens and connectors.  Both have a high knowledge capital and are willing to share their tacit knowledge with the group.
    • Finally, Gladwell (2006) explained the “persuaders” are the members of the group that can change people’s minds.  They are able to convincingly share and spread ideas.
  • Next Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) noted the relational dimension.  There are 4 components: Trust which we noted the value of earlier; norms; obligations: and identification.
    • Both Covey (2006)  and Cloud (2013) noted the importance of clear boundaries for a team.  People need to know where they are going, clarify what’s expected and be supported by a culture that trusts them to get it done.
    • Chip and Dan Heath (2010) explained you have to shape the path.  You have to create the environment which not only encourages people to make the change but shapes their choices. The Heaths’ strongly emphasized the significance of a shared identity.  In fact, they noted it’s our go to decision making model.  We may reason out our decision using the rational model, but when in doubt the elephant wins and we decide in favor of our identity.  Avolio, Walumbwa and Weber (2009) agreed that activating an identity to which people can relate, helps to build a shared identity (p. 427).
    • Gladwell (2006) likened this notion to the broken windows effect.   We are shaped by our environment and the people in it.  Culture is how we make sense of the world and our behaviour shifts according to the environment and context in which we live and work.
    • Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003) also noted the value of network ties and configuration as essential aspects of how we access information, which connect back to Gladwell’s connectors, mavens and persuaders.
  • Lastly, the cognitive dimension is based on building meaningful connections in a shared context.  A shared language helps teams facilitate the exchange of information which creates an opportunity to build intellectual capital. Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) noted the significance of shared narratives (p. 6).  Just as Carmine Gallo (2014) explained in Talk Like TED, stories not only help us organize the world, they are given preferential treatment in our memory.  Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) also highlighted how stories are a powerful way to not only transfer explicit knowledge, but if you look closely at how the story flows the tacit knowledge is embedded, as well.
    • Bolden, Gosling, Marurano and Dennison (2003) pointed out that although there are many different leadership theories, there is no one size fits all leadership style and each theory lends itself to different styles, followers and situations (p. 8).  Knowing what style to apply depends on your context and situation and it’s an important part of responding to the needs of your team

Melrose, Park and Perry (2015) reminded us of the value of articulating our personal philosophy.  Before we can decide what or how to reach our destination, we have to understand why we chose that teaching approach in the first place.  Reflecting on your personal philosophy of learning and leadership is an important part of growing as a leader.  We all have a go to framework that not only helps us organize our learning, but it’s what we default to in times of stress.  In his TED Talk – How great leaders inspire action, Simon Sinek explained

people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.

Whether it’s selling a product, implementing a change or teaching a new skill.  People don’t buy in because you told them to, they are drawn to your why.  Just think about the teachers and leaders that have inspired you. It was likely their genuine enthusiasm and leadership style that you connected with most.   A strong understanding of content is important but unless people understand why the concept is important, it’s just data.

It doesn’t mean that your why or your personal philosophy of leadership or learning won’t change.  They will continue to evolve.  What’s important is that you are an active part of the evolution.  It’s the small actions each day that become the habits shaping your path and in turn your life.  Make sure you are becoming the leader you want to be not just the one that happened.

Sometimes the smallest actions say the most.  Body language and non-verbal communication surfaced on several occasions during my research.  From Amy Cuddy’s (2012) research on how body language can change the hormones released in our body and in turn how our brains think to McGonigal’s (2015) physical resilience power-up strategies, body language is embedded into social capital without us even realizing it.  Our brains will judge within seconds whether members of our network are trustworthy or not.  It’s not even something we need to consciously decide.  Our primitive brain is always working to protect us.  Sinek (2014) pointed out if the trust begins to fail our brain chemistry changes and we are no longer focused on the team goal but rather our individual survival.  Ruggieri, Boca and Garro (2013) noted face to face leadership is established through “body language, vocal inflection, eye contact and clothing” (p.98), which is reinforced based on the group’s response.

Winkler (2010) mentioned in several theories the results a leader produces are dependent upon the a group’s favorable response.  In the idiosyncrasy credit theory of leadership, for example, a leader rises as they gain credit for upholding the social norms and expectations of the group.  Once they become a leader their credits enable them step outside the boundaries and push the group in innovative directions, but only as long as the group finds the results favorable.  Too many withdrawals in your leadership credits means you will lose control. Similarly, Covey (2006) discussed the significance of making deposits not just withdrawals in your trust account.    While Winkler (2010) didn’t directly define the concept of social capital, it permeated the majority of contemporary theories that he discussed.

As I re-read my Super Better post wondering how I was going to connect gaming and resilience to leadership, I was drawn back to McGonigal’s (2015) keys connections between our thinking and behaviours that contribute to post-traumatic and post-ecstatic growth.

  • Learn to benefit find connected to Chip and Dan Heath’s (2010) find the bright spots which pairs with the strength based leadership focus.
  • Finding the heroic story encouraged us to connect to our story and how we identify with our network.
  • Cultivating connectedness builds relationships.
  • Being flexible and adopting a challenge mindset will help you and your team find the best solution rather than the one you think should work.
  • Lastly, taking committed action links to following through with what you say you are going to do (Cloud (2013) & Covey (2006)).

All of which help build social capital.

While gaming may not be your thing, the value in Super Better lies in the small, achievable challenges that build resilience. If you are focused on developing a team of strong leaders, building these strategies into your community of practice will not only strengthen the resilience of the individuals, but the team as well.  As Collins (2001) said, you need the right people on the bus and then it doesn’t matter what detours you encounter the team will make it happen.

What about e-leadership?

Avolio et. al. (2009) noted that e-leadership comes with its own unique set of challenges based on the physical distance, as well as, the type of technology; moreover, face to face is not the same as virtual environments (p. 440).  Ruggieri, Boca and Garro (2013) explained that online transformational leadership encouraged increased communication, self awareness and increased levels of team identification.  By focusing on more than just the transactions that occur within a group, transformational leaders build the skills of their followers in multiple dimensions. In short, they foster the growth of well rounded, leaders working towards a common goal.

As I reflected in an early post.  I learned the most from online classes lead by transformational leaders where we were encouraged to share our ideas without the fear of being wrong.  The true building of intellectual capital is in the sharing of and reflecting on ideas.  You don’t grow unless you share, make connections and think more deeply about your experiences.   All of which rarely happens without a positive, social capital rooted firmly in trusting relationships.  As Sinek (2014) noted, “the people always have the power” (p. 67) and the true power lies in realizing that we are all responsible for protecting the circle of safety.  The circle is what supports the coevolution of social and intellectual capital which creates an organizational advantage (Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998); Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003)).

Driscoll (2005) cited Wenger (1998) as she noted how our learning trajectory changes over time.  Whether you are on an inbound trajectory headed toward full group participation as an insider or sustaining relationships in related communities of practice as a broker or on an outbound course, people are always interacting with communities of practice in different ways (Psychology of Learning for Instruction, p.168-169).  Driscoll (2005) noted the work of Lave & Wenger (1991) when she explained that becoming an insider takes time.  Newcomers start on the periphery and through their interactions with oldtimers (full participants) slowly progress toward full participation.  As new members join the group, the once newcomer becomes a mentor as they move closer to becoming an old timer (Driscoll, 2005, p. 166).

Learning trajectory is an interesting way to think about home based business entrepreneurs.  There’s a strong core group that is very active and in some cases includes the founders.  As teams grow, newcomers learn the business and progress toward full inbound participation, but just as often as new people join others are on their outbound path.  It’s an ever evolving community of practice held together by the core members.  As Driscoll (2005) shared with reference to the work of Lave and Wenger (1991), there is no illegitimate peripheral participation.  Access to most specific home based business groups requires actual membership before detailed sharing of knowledge occurs.  Whether people choose to engage and move from legitimate peripheral to full participation, depends upon the social and intellectual capital within the group.  The community of practice needs to welcome the new members and in turn new members must choose their level of participation (Psychology of Learning for Instruction, p. 167-166).

While it may at times be necessary for someone to actually take the lead, it doesn’t mean that all members can’t practice positive leadership.  We all have a choice to participate in and help strengthen the team.  The strength of a team lies not in in one person but in the complex interconnections between the explicit and tacit knowledge shared by the group.  Perhaps in the end effective leadership is less about the person leading and more about creating the conditions in which we can all learn to lead.  Avolio et. al. (2009) discussed leadership as an emergent state in which team members collectively lead each other (p.431).  Providing opportunities for each person’s strengths to contribute to and lead the team when appropriate creates a unified and cohesive group that can take on any challenge.


References available on our Leadership Resources page.

 

What I’ve Learned….

As is true for many journeys, I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go when I started but is was soon quite apparent that the more I learned the less I seemed to know:)  It’s been a great experience learning more about leadership.

First, leadership is something that surrounds us everyday, but how often do we really stop to think about leadership.  This class has given me the opportunity to focus my studies on leadership and really dig into the theories.

And wow!! There are so many theories of leadership which build on an even greater number of frameworks and competencies.  It wasn’t a piece that I was overly interested in but thanks to the encouragement of Dr. Marguerite Koole.  It was well worth the time.  There are so many different types of theories and the theories themselves have evolved over time.  I found I could relate to bits and pieces of a number of theories but those that appealed most to me seemed to involve moving towards a transformative style, yet there are parts of others that can’t be ignored…psycho-dynamic, idiosyncratic…

My goal from the beginning has been to create resources and reflections that offer value to others interested in learning about leadership in small manageable chunks. So that after I’ve shared my posts it invites reflection and perhaps a slightly new way to look at the world around you.

I’ve attempted to pull together ideas from many of the articles, blogs, videos and books that I’ve read.  At first I thought it would be great to create a series of mini leadership presentations so that readers could easily share with their teams.  Upon reflection, however, a typical presentation with just slides doesn’t really do justice to the story behind the writing.  So I chose to blog about key topics that resonated deeply with me in an attempt to pull together ideas and link you to resources of value.  I’ve tried to reference key parts of the resources that have helped me so that if you find value, you can really dig into the work of the writers.

I’m still very interested in how leadership differs in the online world compared with face to face interactions.  In our ever evolving world of social media, I’m intrigued by how some leaders grow their following in person and online.  What is it that draws people to your message and helps you grow a following online?  Do they do anything different?

It’s my hope to continue to add and grow this leadership blog as I continue my learning journey beyond the completion of my ETAD Masters classes.  It’s a topic that affects how we live our lives and it’s my hope that by increasing our understanding of leadership that we can all make healthier choices and continue to develop positive, strong, resilient leaders that are truly worth following:)  Remember leadership comes in many forms and choosing to positively change your behaviours will ripple out to those around you.  You never know just how far or who you will impact along the way, but it will make a difference.

 

Sustainable Leadership – Part 2

PART 2

Open or Closed?

Dr. Cloud asked which type of system you are creating.  One creates a culture of energy and innovation, which enhances long term growth or the other.  The one that locks down your team and creates the potential to spiral down into chaos.  Cloud connected the closed system to the second law of thermodynamics.

So here’s a quick aside for the science teachers out there.  Simply stated, Lucas explained the second law of thermodynamics means systems left unto themselves will tend towards disorder (What is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Jim Lucas, 2015, para. 1).  A leader who isolates their team, including themselves, runs the risk of being isolated.

It may be lonely at the top, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a support system.  Thinking that you can do it all and that you can solve everything jeopardizes the success of your entire team.  What you need most as a leader is an outside support system that helps you look after your professional and personal development.  As Cloud noted,

“Leaders need outside voices to provide emotional and functional support, not just so they can avoid mistakes but also so they can grow as leaders” (p. 201).

What’s the lesson?

  • There will always be new situations that we encounter as leaders.  Having a trusted external support system in place enables you, as a leader, to have a sounding board that will give you honest feedback (p. 202-203).

One thing to keep in mind as you build your support network, is the law of association.  In Go Pro, Eric Worre (2013), reminded us of a lesson that he learned from Jim Rohn.  Your associations matter. The law of association says

“you’ll become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.  You’ll think how they think, act how they act, talk how they talk and earn how they earn.” (p. 131).

Eric Worre shared this video with his viewers:

Who are you surrounding yourself with?  Do they provide you with honest feedback?  Do they encourage you to grow outside your comfort zone? While being surrounded by people that agree with everything you say and do may be easy and comfortable.  They aren’t going to step up and make you think, they aren’t going to challenge you to do more and become more.  The people around you shape you more than you realize.

So are you open to feedback, energy and ideas that can come from outside your network and the diversity within your network that can help you grow stronger?  Both Cloud and Worre highlighted the value of ongoing professional development.  You have to work on yourself to truly become a leader worth following!

After all, life begins a the end of your comfort zone
(Neale Donald Walsch).

 

Check out Part 1 of Sustainable Leadership


Sustainable Leadership

Leadership just doesn’t happen….

Sustainable leadership is about more than just getting to the top.  It requires ongoing care and attention to the needs of your organization and team.  It begins with looking after you!

Now I don’t mean it’s all about you and you have to look our for number 1, rather I’m referring to the importance of looking after your health and learning as a leader.   As. Dr. Henry Cloud asked, “How are you leading yourself?” (p. 198).

Why do I matter?

  • As a leader, you are utilizing qualities, skills, talents and competencies that have helped you get where you are today.  You are leading formally or informally because your leadership is making a difference to those around you.
  • As I was reading, Boundaries for Leaders, I was struck by Dr. Henry Cloud’s numerous reminders that,
    you always get what you create and what you allow” (p.xvi).  

  • Just step back for a moment and think about that….how often have you seen or heard of leaders frustrated with their teams or the results of their teams.  If you are the one leading, you create the chaos and in turn the results.  It’s important to step back and reflect on the impact your leadership is having on the team.
  • Creating sustainable leadership means not only reflecting on where your team and organization are at, it means reflecting on how you are leading and what you need to keep growing.  I’m the first to agree that this isn’t always easy or fun to own what you’ve created and as a teacher I’m reminded of  a speaker I once heard.  Tom Schimmer explained that we are all too willing as educators to take credit for the students who are doing well particularly, those that go on in life to reach significant achievements. We are the first to put up our hands and say we taught them.  He reminded us all that to own the successes we must also reflect on our struggling students.  In the end, we’ve taught all of them.  You don’t get to pick and choose.
  • So how do you continue to grow towards the leader that you want to be… a leader worth following?

The Law of Leadership:

“The higher you go in leadership, the fewer external forces act upon you and dictate your focus, energy and direction.  Instead you set the terms of engagement and direct your own path, with only the reality of results to push against you”
(Dr. Henry Cloud, Boundaries for Leaders, 2013, p. 197)

Dr. Cloud explained that the higher up in leadership you go the less people are directing you.  You create the boundaries.  The problem, however, for many leaders is that they lead their organizations and teams but forget to ask how they are leading themselves (p.198).  Do we start to be shaped by the circumstances and environment that we initially created?  Do we forget to manage ourselves and in turn become more reactive and essentially forget to lead ourselves?  It reminds me of a quotation by Jim Rohn, “Either you run the day or the day runs you” (Self Made Success).

Have you stopped to think about how your leadership has evolved?  Are you still on the same path you want to be?  Are you still leading in a way that helps you grow?

Check out part 2 for continuing ideas on sustainable leadership.

 

 

 

 

 

Body Language- What you are really saying…

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are ~ Amy Cuddy

TED Talk
Interactive Transcript

One of my favourite TED Talks, okay I have lots of favourite TED Talks.  It turns out what you can learn in 18 minutes truly change your life.  This one in fact has impacted my daily interactions and lead me to attend more workshops on non-verbal communication.  Did you know how you carry yourself and how you stand can change not only the way you think about yourself but the hormone levels in your body?  Strong leaders are able to clearly communicate their message and this includes the non-verbal aspects, as well. I do have to warn you, once you learn more about body language it has the potential to change the way you see the world.  Do you think two minutes of power posing can change how you feel? Are you ready?

Cuddy noted in her 2012 TED Talk that “we make sweeping judgement and inferences from body language” (time 2.04).  From deciding whether or not we like someone, to whether a physician is nice (turns out nice Doctors are sued less often) or if we will vote for a political candidate,  those seconds before you speak shape lasting impressions. As a social scientist, Cuddy wondered “do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?” (time 6:57). Can you fake till you make it?

By examining levels of “testosterone, which is the dominance hormone, and cortisol, which is the stress hormone” (time 7:57), Cuddy tracked hormone levels in both powerful and powerless people.  Research showed that “powerful and effective leaders also have high testosterone and low cortisol” (time 7:57). Based on her team’s experiments, Cuddy had people pose in high power and low power poses for two minutes prior to the testing of hormone levels and then in the second experiment an independent panel of body language experts evaluated them during an intense interview.  What she found was that 2 minutes of power posing (think wonder women) changes your hormone levels.  Power posing increases testosterone and decreases cortisol, whereas weaker poses like hunching over and checking your phone in the waiting room have the opposite effect (Time 11:44).

Cuddy explained “that our bodies can change our minds and our minds can change our behaviour, and our behaviour can change our outcomes” (15:35). Anyone can be a leader but part of that is in our minds.  People respond to our non verbal communication, so paying attention to the signals you are sending makes a difference in the congruency of the messages you convey.  As Amy Cuddy says, “don’t fake it till you make it.   Fake it till you become it” (time 19:14).

Leadership Connections: 

The more I learn about body language the more I understand how  nonverbal communication impacts our daily interactions.  Many leadership theories talk about the charisma and other dominant characteristics of leaders, while only a few acknowledge body language directly.  It’s importance is embedded into every interaction a leader has with a follower.  In fact, Cuddy explains that if one person has bigger body language the other person doesn’t mirror it rather they do the opposite and become smaller (4:55). Learning how to read the nonverbal signals in the room isn’t easy and learning how to respond is even harder but in the end your conscious body language choices will become more automatic and you will change your relationships with those around you.

Now imagine yourself as a teacher or team leader that’s aware of  body language.  The ability to consciously share the strategies with those around you has the potential to change their self-confidence. It has the potential to transform your team.


TED Talk – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are – Amy Cudy
Interactive Transcript